Friday, March 7, 2008
RSC listens to parent input for new superintendent
Monday night, the Regional School Committee (RSC) listened as about 20 parents gathered in Concord’s Thoreau School auditorium shared their thoughts on the hiring of a new superintendent for the Concord Public School and Concord-Carlisle Regional School Districts.The current superintendent, Brenda Finn, will be retiring this summer. The RSC focused on the answers to three questions: What are the biggest issues facing the schools? What skills, characteristics and experience should a superintendent possess to be successful in the job? And what specific questions should the RSC ask of the candidates?
Several parents said issues with school buildings were their biggest concerns, while others were concerned about MCAS testing. Parents noted a shift over the last five years, with teachers spending more time preparing students to take the tests and more MCAS tests to take. Parents worried that teachers struggle to retain their creativity.
Skills and characteristics
One parent wanted “a new superintendent who really listens and really responds.” She also wanted to see a curriculum for the gifted and talented, and said,“I want to see leadership from the top down on that.” Another parent wanted the superintendent to take a collaborative approach to solving problems, including teachers in the decision-making. Parents wanted the superintendent to actively support METCO, to support and challenge teachers and have experience with building a school.
Another skill sought in a superintendent is the ability to develop and partnerships between the school and officials such as the Boards of Selectmen, the Finance Committees and other community leaders and organizations. Another parent wanted the superintendent to promote teacher training and curriculum for adopted students.
Parents wanted the RSC to be sure to ask some open-ended questions during candidate interviews. Suggested questions included: What is your vision of where the school system should be in ten years? How will you take the school to the next level? What is the biggest issue in education today? What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
Other questions revolved around what changes a candidate would like to make at the school, if any. How would they promote change? Alternatively, why change anything if the student body is already successful?
Internal candidate or interim
RSC member Peter Fischelis thanked people for their thoughtful input. He said the RSC will be conducting interviews after the March 17 deadline for resumes from candidates that are employed by the Concord or Carlisle school systems. Several parents questioned the logic of looking at only internal candidates at this time and another parent pleaded with the RSC to do a national search.
Fischelis said the decision on the chosen procedure “was made after a long and thoughtful discussion.” He said the committee weighed the pros and cons, and in the end, “felt it was better for [the school systems] to move forward.” He added, “We are thoroughly committed to using all the criteria for internal candidates. If they don’t measure up, we are fully prepared to hire an interim superintendent.” If the RSC finds it necessary to hire an interim superintendent for next year, they will start a nation-wide search in the fall for a permanent candidate.
Fischelis said the public is welcome to come to the interviews, but will not be allowed to question the candidates. RSC member Michael Fitzgerald said, “We are doing everything we can to make this an open process.” ∆
© 2008 The